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Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia

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Events

January 01st, 1970

Ungano’s
New York, N.Y.

Joined by Elvin Bishop, Buddy Miles and others, Hendrix took part in a jam session at Ungano’s nightclub (210 West 70th Street, New York City). Sacha Reins, a writer for French entertainment magazine Best (Issue 39) who just happened to be in the club during the event, later wrote about the evening. “It is beginning to get quite late, and I tell myself that I have to go. I look to the door and get a big shock. Jimi is there with a black guitar in his hand. Buddy Miles follows him. He shakes the hand of the boss, and I hear him asking if he doesn’t mind them playing a bit. The three telephone booths near the entrance are immediately occupied. We all want to tell a friend that nice things are about to happen. Less than an hour later the club is full. Jimi is onstage and Buddy is looking for a drum stool big enough to support his enormous weight.

“A very young guitar player who has been playing for half an hour wants to leave. He doesn’t want to play anymore. Jimi stops him and asks him if they can play together. They try out a rather quick number and Jimi intentionally stays in the background. He waits until the young guitarist regains his confidence. Then he takes his turn. He plays short phrases with long silence intermissions during which one only hears the strong and regular pulsations of Buddy Miles. The silences become shorter and shorter. The phrases are less and less chopped up; they become enchained, stupefying. Jimi had found his groove and under his fingers the strings tell us strange stories that we don’t fully comprehend.”

Stories

January 28th, 1970

Madison Square Garden, N.Y.

As spirited as the Fillmore concerts may have been, the resurrection of the Jimi Hendrix Experience became the immediate priority of Jimi’s management. This became increasingly so in the aftermath of a failed January 28, 1970 Band Of Gypsys gig at Madison Square Garden. The Winter Carnival For Peace was an event organized by promoter Sid Bernstein. The concert was a nonprofit benefit to raise money for the Moratorium Fund, an antiwar effort. Joining Hendrix and the Band Of Gypsys on the bill were such diverse acts as the Rascals, Harry Belefonte, and the cast of Hair.

Jimi’s performance began shortly after 3 a.m. He lurched miserably through two songs “Who Knows” and “Earth Blues” before he sat down on the stage and refused to continue. Buddy Miles tried to mollify the confused audience, pleading for their patience but Hendrix refused to continue. Miles petitioned the crowd to allow Hendrix time to regroup but Jimi unplugged his guitar and disappeared backstage.

The group’s aborted performance left a bitter taste for Hendrix, Cox, and Miles and the three parted company immediately afterwards. Jimi described the scene a few days after concert to Rolling Stone’s John Burks. “It’s like the end of the beginning or something,” explained Hendrix. “I figure that Madison Square Garden is like the end of a big long fairy tale. Which is great. I think it’s like the best ending I could possibly have come up with. The Band Of Gypsys were out of sight as far as I’m concerned. It was just…going through head changes is what it was. I couldn’t really tell. I was very tired. You know, sometimes there’s a lot of things that add up in your head about this or that and they might hit you at a very peculiar time, which happened to be at a peace rally. Here I’d been fighting the biggest war I ever fought. In my life. Inside, you know? And like that wasn’t the place to do it.”

Events

January 28th, 1970

Billed as the "Winter Festival For Peace," Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) and Sid Bernstein, event producers, announced that their services would be donated and that all proceeds of the event will go to the Vietnam Moratorium effort. The five-hour festival slated from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature Harry Belafonte; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Dave Brubeck; Richie Havens; Mother Earth; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Rascals; The Cast of Hair; Judy Collins, and Jimi Hendrix & his Band Of Gypsys.

Suffering from exhaustion and the effects of a drink laced with an unknown substance taken before the show, Hendrix failed to execute his musical plans this evening. Having completed just two songs, "Who Knows" and "Earth Blues" the only thing Hendrix could do at that point was drop his guitar and sit down on the stage, meanwhile Miles and Cox continue to roll through the back beats. As Alfred Aronowitz later recalled in his New York Post column, "The crowd has already gotten twice its money's worth when Jimi Hendrix stopped playing in the middle of his second number, said 'That's what happens when Earth ***** with Space, never forget that, that's what happens.'" ... "Jimi got up, put his guitar down and walked offstage."

"When he came off stage," explained Alan Douglas "he actually fell off the apron. At first I thought he was hurt, but he wasn't. I then ran backstage to the dressing room to see if in fact he was okay. There he was sitting playing the guitar and smiling. I don't know what went through his mind when he was on stage, but the first thing I noticed, it looked like he was having a big rhythm problem. I think he just got fed up."

Backstage, Jimi meets Johnny Winter. In recounting the meeting Winter explains, "I saw Jimi backstage at the Madison Square Garden concert, the one where he just couldn't play. When I saw him, it have me chills. It was the most horrible thing I'd ever seen. He came in with this entourage of people, and it was like he was already dead. He just walked in - and even though Jimi and I weren't the greatest of friends, we always talked, always - and he came in with his head down, sat on the couch alone, and put his head in his hands. He didn't say a word to anybody, and no one spoke to him. He didn't move until it was time for the show. He really wanted to do that gig, but he never should have. It wasn't that it was bad, but his whole thing was inspiration, and there wasn't any. It was just completely uninspired; finally, right in the middle of a song, he just took his guitar off, sat on the stage - the band was still playing - and told the audience, "I'm sorry, we just can't get it together." One of his people said he was sick, and lead him off stage. He was just so unhappy that there was no way that he could play the show. It didn't have anything to do with the group - he had already died!"